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Published on 7/3/2023, 10:21:00 AM

I missed my Court date in Maryland, What do I do?

If you recently missed a Court date in Maryland, then you could have lost your opportunity to challenge your case, or worse, you might even have a warrant. This article will take you through the first five steps you should take after missing Court so that your rights are protected.

Life can be unpredictable, and sometimes, circumstances may lead to you missing a court date in Maryland. If you find yourself in this situation, it's crucial not to panic.

What is a "FTA" or Failure to Appear

If a person misses a Court date they were supposed to have attended, a Judge may mark the case FTA. These failures to appear, or "FTA"s can be used against a person in future hearings as an example to suggest that they may not appear in Court. For example at a bail review, the prosecution might bring up prior failures to appear as a basis for holding a person without bail.

So I have a FTA in my case, what do I do next?

There are steps you can take to remedy the situation. Here are the first five steps you should follow:

1. Figure out what the worst case scenario is

The first step is to understand the potential consequences of missing your court date. Depending on the nature of your case, the repercussions can vary. For instance, if you're dealing with a DUI case, the penalties could be more severe than a traffic ticket.

Generally one of the following things can happen in a criminal or traffic case.

Missing Court for a Criminal Case

If a person misses a crucial hearing in a criminal case, then the Judge may issue a bench warrant for their arrest. Unlike a traditional warrant for a person's arrest, a bench warrant is public information. If you FTA'd from your last Court date, you can see if a warrant was issued by checking Maryland Case Search.

Let's consider a hypothetical situation: John Doe, who was charged with a DUI, missed his trial date due to a family emergency. In this case, John might be facing a bench warrant for his arrest. If John Doe's attorney appeared in Court and relayed the emergency, then the Judge may, at their discretion, postpone the case to another date. Similarly, John's attorney could also file a Motion to Continue the Court date in writing ahead of the hearing.

What are the different types of bench warrants?

Bench warrants come in two forms

  • "Commissioner Set Bond"

  • "Judge Only"

If a bench warrant is issued as "Commissioner Set Bond" then a person can be released by a comissioner after their arrest. Commissioners work 24/7 at Maryland detention facilities to conduct initial appearances. Commissioners can release Defendants on monetary bails and can set Court dates when a person is released as well.

If a bench warrant is issued as "Judge only" then once it is served the person will be held until the next available Court date to be seen by a Judge.

Missing Court for a Civil Fine only Traffic Case

If you missed Court for a civil traffic infraction, your failure to appear could result in the case being marked "FTA". A FTA in a Traffic case can result in suspension of a person's driving license and the assessment of fees.

Missing Court for a Criminal (Jailable) Traffic Case

Criminal traffic offenses, those that are punishable by jail, like driving suspended, driving under the influence or knowingly driving uninsured are eligible for warrants to be issued on a Defendant's failure to appear.

2. Find Out What Happened in Court Without You

Even in your absence, the court proceedings may have continued. It's important to find out what decisions were made during the session. You can usually obtain this information from the court clerk or Maryland Case Search.

Returning to our example, John would need to find out if a warrant was issued or if his case was rescheduled. He could call the Court or check Maryland case search to see if a warrant was issued or not.

3. Speak with an Attorney to Remedy Your Failure to Appear

Once you understand the situation, it's time to seek professional help. A seasoned criminal defense attorney can guide you through the next steps and help mitigate the consequences.

Recalling Warrants

If a warrant has been issued, an attorney can help to recall or quash the warrant. This involves presenting a plausible reason for missing the court date and assuring the court it won't happen again. These requests are filed in writing and can take several days to be ruled upon.

3 If That Fails, Arrange for a Turn In

If the court refuses to recall the warrant, the next step is to arrange for a 'turn in.' Your attorney can help you coordinate this process with the local detention center to minimize the time you spend in custody.

Additionally, you'll want to make sure that the attorney is available the next day to conduct a bail review hearing if you are not released by the commissioner.

Clearing Up Defaults in Traffic Cases

For traffic cases, the process involves paying either the fine or requesting a new court date. In both situations, an attorney can provide valuable guidance. Certain moving violations carry points against a person's license. If you pay these moving violations - it's the same as entering a guilty plea. If you accrue enough points against your license then you could see increased insurance premiums or even license suspension.

4. Retain an Attorney to Handle Your Case

Hiring a professional criminal defense attorney can be a game-changer. They can guide you through the legal maze, ensure your rights are protected, and devise a solid defense strategy.

Our firm's unique blend of compassion, legal knowledge, and tailored defense strategies set us apart from others. But don't just take our word for it�check out what our past clients have to say about their experiences with our firm on our reviews page.

5. Appear at Your Next Court Date

Now that you have professional legal assistance, it's crucial to appear at all subsequent court dates. Your attorney will help you prepare and represent your best interests in court. They will also remind you of your court date so that you don't miss any future hearings!

In conclusion, missing a court date can be a stressful experience, but it's not the end of the world. By taking these steps and hiring an experienced defense attorney, you can mitigate the impact and get your life back on track.

If you've missed a court date, don't leave your future to chance. Reach out to us today to schedule a free consultation and learn how our comprehensive, personalized legal support can help you navigate this situation. Your fight is our fight, and together, we can navigate your legal journey.